Another good bus ride

Last night I had the best bus ride as a 70 year old lady got on dressed very flamboyantly and told me lots of things about her life and her son and his foot being cut off recently from diabetes and she loved my hair and I loved hers and we compared greyness levels, and as we chatted the bus announced “Elizabeth” as we approached that street and she said THATS MY NAME and i said THATS MY NAME TOO and we high fived and then she gave me a big container of very nice weed!!! I can’t smoke it because my lungs and post-Covid but I appreciated the gesture anyway!

Elizabeth L. was born in 1952 at the corner of 19th and Castro ! She just went blind in one eye and has been practicing for it for years by going around her house in the pitch dark! I love her… We said GOOD BYE ELIZABETH to each other as I went down the ramp to go home! “See you on the 24!!!! ELIZABETH!!!!” giggling like fools.

I love being a magnet for this sort of encounter and I love the bus.

I am not so far away from being 70 myself. Time goes faster and faster.

Feeling better

Post-illness report! I’m still taking some extra meds for the lingering asthma/cough/chest pain and I still get tired easily. I can now take the bus across town, go to a thing, and take the bus home. I also am doing regular house cleaning and water the garden. I’m back at work (from home! with short naps). So that’s a huge improvement!

I really enjoyed the Claire DeWitt mystery novels – very modern noir – fabulous protagonist – nicely surreal – I kept highlighting whole paragraphs to save as quotes – Love a book that centers on a fictional book (in this case, Détection by Jacques Sillette, and a zine, Cynthia Silverton Girl Detective). No deep thoughts from me right now, but I loved these books and hope there will be another!

A day in the life of Capp St. Noisebridge

Noisebridge moved into the new space, what, a year ago or so? Something like that. Because of the pandemic, we have been a little slow settling in, and this winter with the rain and Omicron surge, there wasn’t a ton of activity – a solid core of regulars working to get the space organized, the wood shop even more functional, the giant laser cutter in working order, and so on. I spent Friday and Saturday afternoon at the space and thought I’d report on my day today! In case you are worried about my pandemic surge risk taking I will mention everyone at the space is vaccinated and I stayed outside 95% of the time and wore a well fitted n95 mask!

Friday in between work meetings I cleared an enormous load of junk and trash to the front porch, listened to Claus’s vision of what might happen with the space, emailed an electrician for a quote, arranged for trash pickup today and a plumber to come snake the clogged drain. 272 Capp was some sort of auto repair place for a while, with a big concrete driveway and a rollup door you could drive through. The drain in this “front porch” driveway area has been clogged since the move-in, and we’ve gone through a few attempts to lever up its rusty iron grate to no avail.

First off me and TJ chatted with a guy I know I’ve met before, James, who is a science fiction writer, who let me photograph his amazing “battle jacket” covered in patches for punk bands and nerd things, stopped by and talked about his plans for lenticular printing. I gave him some tips on cheap options for rubber rollers (like for printmaking). Wonder if we will see some nifty lenticular print workshops at the space?

james with patch jacket

The trash pickup guys were intrigued and said they might come back another day for a tour and will tell their boss, who would like the idea of a free workshop.

The heroic plumber who showed up today chiselled and hammered the hell out of the grate, got it unstuck, snaked and hosed out the drain several times (absolutely disgusting smelling motor oil storm drain situation! ) The plumber is now a friend of Noisebridge and I think is going to show up to take a welding lesson.

I took on the top half of a plywood laser-cut obelisk that was in the trash pile (rained on all winter) as my project. It is now spray painted with spare cans of paint & I’m going to add hinges to one panel so it becomes a cabinet, slather it in marine varnish, and put a solar LED light inside.

Justin from Technical Underground spent hours building a giant planter box for the front porch – totally off the cuff out of scrap lumber. It still needs some sealant inside, a bottom shelf, casters so we can wheel it around the patio, paint, a coat of polyurethane, then I’ll fill it with the herbs and succulents that are now in some janky plastic pots.

Have a look at things coming out of our horrible car repair shop storm drain (drains to Mission Creek, I’m afraid)

heroic plumber

Meanwhile people were coming into the space and doing amazing mysterious things. Some 3-D printer stuff was happening, a guy showed up with a box of electronics stuff and god knows what he was up to, someone tried out sewing machines upstairs, a dude showed up with fancy lumber to build himself a desk –

One of the most hilarious interactions went like this, a dude riding by on a bike stopps & yells in, askking if we are open. Yes! Yes we are. “Do you have any electrical engineers here?” Yes probably. Maybe! What’s up. “Can I bring this, well, I have this BOX, I got it at an auction and it’s like, this 80s bullshit device that does something with your Aura, and electricity, and I want to know what it actually *does*.” Ok well how big is this box and can i just say right off, that you cannot leave it here but that does sound … hilarious” “It’s got a little carrying case! I can bring it and show it!” “Bring it a little later like 5 or 6pm when a lot more people will show up!” Hours later dude rolls up on his bike with a sort of thin suitcase and we all cluster round to see the 3-Part Body Charging Molecular Enhancer!!!! Hilarity ensues! It is several glass plates, a palm sized piece of hammered copper soldered to an amp lead, and some laminated instructions. Turns out we are missing the other 2 suitcases with the Transformer thing and the Bulb but the instructions were AMAZING.

diagram of molecular enhancer

I feel that some of the instructions are worth sharing with the world and you will have to imagine my dramatically reading them aloud, lingering suggestively on any mention of rubber or nooses in order to make TJ die inside.

How I Experiment with The 3 Part Body Charger

This is how I start and stop the machine so I don’t feel a zap of current when I start or shut it down.

1. I sit on a plastic chair (plastic does not conduct electricity) or
2. Sometimes I use our sofa. I cover the area I sit on with a kind of rubberized material or thick blanket that does not conduct electric. I remove my wrist watch.
3. I PLUG THE CORD INTO THE 110 WALL POWER SUPPLY I MAKE SURE THE MACHINE IS OFF
4. I place the aluminum & glass part (B) on a clean flat dry floor
5. I position the transformer part (A) as shown in Diagram
6. I place Bulb Part (C) in Foam on floor next to my chair.
7. I insert all 3 plugs in their proper sockets on back panel board as shown on diagram
8. I clean the soles of soles of my bare feet and place only the heels on the aluminum part of the glass plat
9. I tie the string of the Harness on the wire next to the bulb and secure the rubber around my neck this prevents the bulb from breaking if I should drop it.
10. I form a noose from the end of the starting cord and tie it on my right wrist.

Many lines or phrases in BOLD, ITALIC, in RED LETTERS, or ALL THREE with Suspiciously Weird Capitalization and yet a notably correct use of the subjunctive!

As near as I can tell this Molecular Enhancer is the equivalent of slowly licking a 2 volt battery. SADLY, Zach the neighbor on the bicycle only has 1 of the 3 part Body Charger. But we enjoyed this historical tour of someone’s absolutely crazed invention.

Justin Lazerbong brought me a very tasty burrito!

Briefly taught another young person how to use a power drill, left her to drill holes in the Obelisk, and I just kind of enjoyed being like “Here’s a power drill, hold it perpendicular, squeeze gently and get the feel of it , BYE” I think she had fun.

I also sent some innocents who had never done such a thing in their lives before, to a paint store to buy several kinds of paint, which reminded me of a similar good time when I yolo-ed to the e-waste center in my wheelchair trundling an enormous heavy bin on entirely inadequate casters 3 blocks down Capp St. with a fabulous young nerd named Wolf who had (I think) just shown up for the first time that day. Hello youngster we are going on a JOURNEY.

Among the things I gave away at the curb (post trash pickup) were: a pharoah costume in original packaging, cupcake decoration kit, many VHS tapes and DVDs, a bunch of weight lifting gizmos (which sadly, the owner of them showed up several hours later unexpectedly, oops, but noisebridge is not a gym, and they were in the trash pile but I felt bad as he was distressed and explained ot me that when programming, it was important to take breaks and do exercise to keep blood flowing to the brain – sorry dude) Some buckets, some more buckets, gnarly old pieces of lumber that had been in the rain and had nails sticking out, and some sandals. By this time the plumber (still snaking the horrible smelling patio drain out after 2 hours at it) was yelling out in a companionable way to passers by, “HAVE SOME FREE STUFF! YES ! FREE!! FUCK YEAH ITS FREE” unbending a bit from the beginning of the day when he was awkwardly calling me “Miss”.

I tweeted this afternoon to try and remember the fun stuff going on: https://twitter.com/lizhenry/status/1482455008507432963

This post is already too long but SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED and I met like, 20 people and got to hear all about their
projects and beam at them benevolently and share some cookies. And that is what I love about Noisebridge! But most of all I love the feeling of contributing something to society and this city, beyond my own private life, family, home, and job, together with other people.

Phrases stuck in my head

Sometimes rather than musical earworms I get particular words or phrases stuck in my head. Last night I woke up with the phrase “Overoles Chiriboga” sort of echoing around every few seconds. This was from a shop sign in downtown Quito, Ecuador, which struck me as both an interestingly resounding phrase and a very beautiful shop front, with a cool font and beautiful paint job.

I took a good photo of it, thankfully, so it isn’t just in my memory. I love the guy standing there with a lot of luggage, and how he is sort of hanging out with the mannequin.

That’s all – there is nothing much to say about this — maybe just a common poet’s curse and blessing — but because I can’t get it out of my head, now you can have it too.

storefront in quito

p.s. it fits perfectly with the Dead Kennedys “California Uber Alles”.

Call for stories of childhood games

I’m working on a zine (or maybe a small book) of people’s stories of games they made up as children. This can be a simple story or paragraph or two — or you can go into more detail.

Examples — in one vignette, I describe the rules of a game my sister and I would play that we called “Animal Wrestling”. In another, we get a true confession of what 4 year old me was pretending while in a bubble bath (alien planet; dome cities).

Email me your stories of home-brewed games – whether played solely in your imagination or with siblings/friends!

I miss the Before Times

For months I think of posting and then turn instead to a book or a game, Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, endless fantasy and science fiction, mystery and romance novels. How to capture any of this? The feeling of the slide to fascism along with climate crisis after crisis. I’ve always said that my hope in life is to avoid living in a country with an active war going on around me, with a side bonus of continuing to have drinkable running water and electricity. Am I going to get to live out my life with those hopes fulfilled or what? The uncertainty on those points continues to grow. Are these, actually, still the Before Times, when we used to have it good, and we don’t know it yet? Horrors.

Work gave us an extra day off last Friday, just because of the stress of the pandemic and the wildfires and bad air. Since the air is so bad, more or less everywhere we could reach, and it was also 100 degrees out (no exaggeration) we spent the 4 day weekend opening the windows any time the air was either cooled off or below 50 on the air quality index, then shutting windows again and running all the air filters. I’m feeling my asthma all the time now with the tight chest and tense, anxious feeling that goes with it. Checking PurpleAir and various fire maps, checking my handheld air quality monitor many times a day inside and outside, taking more showers and cold baths, mopping the floor by skating around with bare feet on wet dishclothes to cool off the room.

I spent a day and a half doing geneology reserach and writing up a narrative of the lives of a great great great grandfather William and his family and then the same for his daughter, my great great grandmother Caroline Crane. You can see the family go from the early 1800s agricultural laborers in a very peaty, marshy bit of Lancashire near Garstang, to William in 1851 getting to go to school till around age 8, then being apprenticed a bit later to a tailor. He was moving on up; he was literate enough to write his name, while his father and grandfather were not. I traced his movements through 3 marriages; he lost his tailoring business and ended up in a brickyard, then as a navvy in a coal mine at Darcy Lever, where his oldest daughter married a collier, James Hutchinson.

This branch of the family was full of examples of both collier and spinner/weaver/comber/whatever in the mills. Whether mines or mills, some patterns emerged. Maybe some schooling up to age 8 or 9, gradually increasing to age 11 or 12 if you were lucky later in the century. A relatively idyllic looking time as a young adult in your own household with a family of young children — if anyone was in school, and if the woman of the house wasn’t in a mill, you were doing GREAT. Then relatives either start moving in as they age or their spouses or parents die, then a couple of decades later you are living in some other 30 year old relative’s house.

I was able to follow James and Caroline’s life in Lancashire for a while. Then in 1911 45 year old James was out of work, and emigrated to the U.S. along with a neighbor. They ended up in Rhode Island where a bunch of my family is from. James and Caroline brought up a great-aunt who I know, so they don’t feel very distant, though they both died before I was born.

After my historical journey I read a book from 1931 called Boy, by James Hanley, about a Lancashire dockworker’s son who is forced to leave school at age 13 by his family to be a dockworker himself. The jobs are horrible and the other teenage workers abusive. (SPOILER ALERT) He then stows away on a seagoing vessel where he becomes basically a slave of the crew, who mostly try to rape him or push him around. He agonizes about his future. Cheerily, he then get syphilis in Alexandria. The captain murders him and throws his body overboard. It was an amazingly written book and I’d say, emotionally stunning. New vow to read everything by James Hanley. But I felt the weekend of 100+ heat and no good air to breathe might be better faced with a more formulaic series….I then plowed through all eight romance novels about the Bridgerton siblings (one book per sibling) by Julia Quinn. They are too mainstream heterosexual for me to be honest but I can “bracket” that by rolling my eyes or some sort of mental magic and they were funny and cute enough to be fun to read. I would also like to complain about how this sort of sex scene is written but there’s no point, let’s just know that it’s completely alien to me and I feel deeply grateful that is so. Nearly ready now to return to the land of war, the ocean, gritty, miserable generational poverty and abuse, etc that James Hanley shall bring me.

Still playing Animal Crossing, and still at the end stage of Spiritfarer, with only Buck and Elena on my enormous boat now, more or less ready to have Stella and Daffodil go through the Everdoor, not without crying I’m sure.

The bright and lovely world

I remember coming out of the house to go to the doctor one time after being ill and house-bound for something like three weeks. The vibrant activity, movement, color, all the people and buses and trees and birds and signs, moved me to tears. I still think of that moment of epiphany every time I’m going on the bus down Mission Street and feel a surge of love.

I’m not feeling super well this week, still interviewing but at a somewhat slower pace as I am getting easily tired (and sporadically running a low fever – still unsure if it is vaccine side effects, just some sort of routine sinus trouble, or a mild case of the Rona.)

Our fridge broke and we had to throw a lot of food away; I got a used fridge from a handy appliance shop just one block from us. Four guys delivered it and took out the old fridge. I bleached all the counters, fridge, and door handles before they came in to protect them, and afterwards to protect me. And tipped high in cash. So appreciating their work. It was quite stressful considering the possibility of trying to get through the quarantine/statewide lockdown without refrigeration for our food. Very happy to now have a working fridge again!

Once I feel a bit better, I have some plans to further organize and clean out our little “office” section of the living room, and to slowly repot every plant on the front porch. Work on my BART game would be nice too and I have several zine and book projects, any of which would be fun to fire up again. (They have fallen by the way as I’ve been either obsessed with jobhunting, de-stressing from interviewing, reading coronavirus news, or destressing from that by like, reading and more game playing.)

Every day I have been running a Stardew Valley game for some kids of my friends and that is now a nice part of the structure of my day.

I highly recommend unlimiting your children’s “screen time” at least for now. Minecraft, Roblox, are good choices for social gaming (and can be played in creative mode for those who don’t like combat games).

Musings on fundamentally ableist assumptions

It isn’t a terrible thing, but a revealing thing, that when I give a short description of the game project I’m working on, and include that you can play a blind or Deaf/deaf person or wheelchair user, people tend to make several assumptions. That the game is about the experience of frustration or pain, about inaccessibility, about barriers. And, that it’s for able bodied people to develop understanding or empathy. I’ve gotten this response so many times that I’ve stopped being surprised. But, how odd!

The reason I’m writing these possible points of view in the game is so that I and other disabled/blind/deaf folks can feel some part of their own experience reflected. It’s a game with fantasy and magic and time travel, it’s about feeling connected to your local geography and history and people and having a sense of place in the world, with a bunch of goofy puzzles. It’s supposed to be fun and amusing. The wheelchair using point of view character might “notice” the bumpiness of pavement or need to use the elevator in train stations instead of the stairs. The blind character gets to use a little audio guide to the train station environs instead of looking at the murals and signs and maps. That’s about it! It’s so that we get to play a fun game without feeling jarred out of what would be our own experience, on some level, and get to feel the pleasure and validation of being represented.

It’s like assuming that a farming or spy game where you can choose your gender, is “for” men to understand women or NB people’s experience, and to show how frustrating it is to be a non-male farmer or assassin or whatever. No, it’s to play the game with a sense of identity that you want to play as, not to play a game about being constantly sexually harassed and shooting powerful lasers out of your boobs, though I’m sure that would be fun in the right context.

Reasons to like a song

My dad clipped out this article on the woman from “My Sharona” (who is indeed named Sharona) & mailed it to me. It’s been a while since my parents sent me newspaper clippings. It felt nice… Anyway he sent it because i liked that song and used to play the album, which was possibly the first album I bought with my own money, in 1980 (either that or the Freedom of Choice Devo album – I can’t remember).

I also named one of my Breyer model horses “Sharona”. It was a very beautiful one!

Here is the secret, which my dad may or may not know, as to why I liked the song. It was because my cat was named Motor and I could sing the line “Oooh you make my Motor run, my Motor run” and think of my adorable cat, who was named Motor because we lived in Detroit, my dad worked for Ford, and obviously because of loud purring (from reading the book The House of Thirty Cats, I took cat naming very very seriously. You have to name the cat something appropriate to its particular personality.)

I like the song M-bike by PJ Harvey for the exact same reason! Good chorus: “MOTOR! MOTOR!! MOTOR!!!”

I guess the new “sending clippings to your grown kids” is just sending tumblr memes over whatsapp since that what I do to mine.

Extra sizzled smell

It took most of the day but I successfully got across town and got this wart thingie removed from the edge of my eyelid. I had two injections in the eyelid to numb it (novocaine eyesocket!) and they did a lot of other confusing and scary stuff and then neatly, quickly, cut out the wart. The tiniest little weird shaped forceps! Then it was cauterized. And swiped with mysterious substances.

All the way home on the bus I could smell it, too — like singed hair and extra crispy bacon.

I was trying to think what it reminded me of because I was having a vague proustian memory feeling and then realized it was when I got that brand on my arm, but also the time that I first lit a gas oven when i was 17 and burned my own eyebrows and bangs off, and then wayyy back to where I got on my friend pam’s older brother’s motorbike and burned the fuck out of my calf on one of the tailpipes (I still have just a trace of the scar).

While the surgeon was doing his thing I began to babble from nervousness and to get my mind off of creepy steel instruments coming towards my eye. I asked him about his practice (out of UCSF where he does reconstructive eye-related surgery) and then was like “Oh you know I read an interesting book about the clinic in World War I run by the guy who basically invented plastic surgery, Gillies, by this guy who was a pilot and had his eyelids burned off.” Somewhat taken aback the doc said, Yes, he knows about Gillies! and there is a procedure still named after him. This was ridiculous, but I couldn’t help it – it just popped into my head and it really does help me stay calm to get an interesting conversation going. In retrospect as I look at the Wikipedia entry I think I am actually mixing up at least 2 different books, one about Gillies’s clinic and one the memoir of the RAF pilot much later about the Guinea Pig Club, called The Last Enemy.

It took a ridiculous amount of time to get to the clinic and back (note to self, next time, take the 24 and just scoot half a mile, because, the J is a PITA and the 22 is possibly the worst slowety-ass bullshit bus, somehow) and I also had to wait very long times in between mysterious Things happening in the eye surgeon waiting rooms.

Eye surgeon waiting room was very full of older people hobbling painfully or with walkers or being pushed in those hellish “transport chairs” that give you no autonomy (and parked by their relatives/caregivers in humiliating places) Anyway older people with not very good mobility looking me up and down having some thoughts. Like planning to chairjack me I’m sure! You… yes you… you too could have this freedom…. take the wheels! *puts on mirror shades, fake-smokes a long candy cigarette* Don’cha wish your walker was hott like me, doncha wish your crutches were wheels right nowwwwww, doncha… I wish I could pep talk and liberate them all. Lovingly….

I worked a little when i got home but my eyeball feels weird. My eyes both keep watering and my eyelid on the formerly-warty side feels swollen and unpleasant.

So glad I got this over with! I’ve been putting it off for 2 years. Next up, a painful wart on my finger and then the dentist (way worse than eyeballs – dental phobia – I am going to try a new super nice sounding dentist who specially focuses on disabled/ phobic people hoping that I won’t throw up and cry when they even do the xrays and also I don’t want to be molested by any more creepy dentists and it’s an all women office, whew…)